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Agriculture: BSE

Volume 707: debated on Thursday 12 February 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the requirement in clause 7 of the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (England) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/1881) that occupiers have to behave “in accordance with the requirements of the Community TSE Regulation and these Regulations” means that livestock farmers may risk prosecution if they lack direct knowledge of the relevant community regulations and directives. [HL1246]

The Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (England) Regulations 2008 apply the sanctions necessary to ensure compliance with obligations imposed directly on livestock keepers and others by “the Community TSE Regulation”; namely, Regulation (EC) No. 999/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001. These lay down rules for the prevention, control and eradication of certain transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, as amended from time to time and as read with relevant Commission decisions.

Livestock farmers do therefore need to be aware of the requirements imposed upon them by this EU Regulation to ensure that they comply with the law. However, Defra provides guidance on these requirements both via its website and directly. For example, we recently wrote to all cattle keepers in England to explain the new requirements for testing fallen cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and to remind them that it is a notifiable disease.

We also aim to ensure that enforcement action is proportionate and risk-based in line with our enforcement policy statement (PB 12963) which is available on the Defra website.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the requirement in clause 7 of the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (England) (Regulations) 2008 (SI 2008/1881) that occupiers have to behave “in accordance with the requirements of the Community TSE Regulation and these Regulations” is a standard form of words used by departments in relation to the European Union or whether it is particular to this statutory instrument. [HL1247]

The Community TSE Regulation contains legal requirements that are directly effective against those to whom they apply—they do not need UK legislation to give them force.

The purpose of the TSE (England) Regulations 2008 is to introduce the provisions necessary to ensure compliance with those requirements; namely, to impose sanctions on those who fail to meet them. Since we cannot legislate domestically for something that already represents the law, the regulations use a form of words that avoids doing so by referring to the EU legislation that imposes the requirements. Similar wording is used in other statutory instruments that enforce directly applicable EU legislation.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why regulations 17 and 18 of the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (England) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/1881) state that anyone who “intentionally obstructs” an inspector will face a fine or prison for three months, while article 18(1) and (3) of the Sea Fishing (Recovery Measures) Order 2008 (SI 2008/2347) lays down that anyone who “assaults” or “intentionally obstructs” a British sea-fishery officer will face a fine not exceeding £50,000. [HL1249]

The sanctions referred to are those that apply on summary conviction for the offence in regulation 17 of intentionally obstructing an inspector. These sanctions, consisting of a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months, have regard to the sanctions imposed on summary conviction for the similar offence of obstruction in Section 66 of the Animal Health Act 1981. These sanctions, imposed under Section 75 of the Animal Health Act, differ only in that the maximum term of imprisonment is six months, as opposed to three months. This is because the TSE (England) Regulations 2008 were made under the European Communities Act 1972 and are therefore subject to the restriction in Schedule 2 to that Act which limits the term of imprisonment which may be imposed on summary conviction for an offence created under the Act to three months.

Sanctions imposed for fisheries offences do not include imprisonment in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which binds the UK under international law.